VINSON: Birth Control Debate Raises Important Questions

MIKE VINSON, Guest Columnist

In February, Sandra Fluke, a 30-year-old law student at Georgetown Law School, appeared before a congressional hearing in an attempt to argue in favor of university insurance coverage paying for women’s contraceptives.

Though she initially was denied the right to speak at the hearing, she eventually was allowed to voice her opinions about birth control insurance coverage.

A few days later, shock-jock Rush Limbaugh, via his nationally syndicated radio show, bashed Fluke, calling her a “slut” and “prostitute,” even saying she should post online her sexual encounters if taxpayers were going to have to foot the bill for her contraceptives.

Granted, Limbaugh is no stranger to controversy.

Rather, controversy is his game, the very means by which he has carved out for himself a niche in the world of media and radio.

However, this time, Limbaugh might have gone too far because many high-paying sponsors have dropped his once-popular radio show.

Actually, nothing extraordinary is taking place in the Limbaugh controversy.

Limbaugh makes a good living attacking whomever about whatever. Fluke, by all appearances, is just a female student who, maybe, enjoys having sex from time to time, and she doesn’t want to get pregnant at this juncture in her life.

Further, at stake here is not Fluke’s sex life.

Instead, what is at stake – for me, anyway – are the thin line separating the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press from defamatory and libelous statements, and how we, as a society, differ on priorities.

It’s similar to Republican presidential primary candidate Mitt Romney attempting to convince the public why he should be elected president, or President Barrack Obama attempting to convince the same why he should re-elected for a second term.

In his original rant, Limbaugh implied Fluke was having sex so often she couldn’t afford to buy her own contraceptives.

Since Limbaugh never has spent any real time with Fluke in any real space, he couldn’t know the specifics of her sex life.

Therefore, I am convinced, at this point, Limbaugh made a grave rush to judgment by publicly stating Fluke was some sort of loose floozy.

He crossed the line of protected rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and entered the danger zone of defamation and libel.

Concerning my stance, I’ll seal the deal by adding Limbaugh did offer Fluke a public apology.

However, there is a degree of logic behind Limbaugh’s argument.

“Oh, really?” some of you probably are asking.

Just hold on, and we’ll attempt to hammer this out.

One could pose the following as an argument: If  decision makers allow Georgetown University’s medical insurance to pay for Fluke’s birth control, should not the university, also, allow the same medical insurance to pay for male students in need of Viagra?

For example, what if Fluke, one day, wants to hook up with a male Georgetown law student who suffers from erectile dysfunction?

After all, according to the experts, both Viagra and oral contraceptives are sexually related medical drugs, right?

However, an ultra-strong conservative could counter with this: Sexual activity is not an absolute necessity for students to attend and successfully complete law school at Georgetown, or any other university for that matter.

Complete abstinence not only would delete the possibility of contracting life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases, it would instill in students a strict regimen of discipline that would serve them throughout life ... Hallelujah!

My point is this: Liberal or conservative, people – at the college-age level, particularly – are going to have sex, by one means or another, and affordable contraceptives should be made available, by one means or another.

Mike Vinson can be contacted at